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Film shows climate change occurring right before viewers' eyes

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The next film in the annual series sponsored by the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) at Bethel College uses time-lapse photography to show mountains of ice disappearing in seconds.

The Emmy® Award-winning documentary Chasing Ice screens Nov. 8 at 3 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center on the Bethel campus. The event is free, with donations accepted to support the film series and the work of KIPCOR.

David Braaten, deputy director of the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets at the University of Kansas, will lead the talk-back session following the film.

The 75-minute documentary was directed by Jeff Orlowski and released in November 2012.

In spring 2005, acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog went to the Arctic with an assignment from National Geographic to "capture images that help tell the story of the earth’s changing climate." Though he had a scientific background, Balog himself was skeptical about climate change.

However, Balog’s journey to the North opened his eyes to one of the biggest stories in human history, sparking a personal challenge that would put his career and even his well-being at risk.

Soon after that first trip to Iceland, Balog conceived the boldest expedition of his life, which he called the Extreme Ice Survey (or EIS). With a band of young adventurers in tow, Balog began deploying a revolutionary system of time-lapse cameras across the Arctic to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers.

Chasing Ice shows the debate over climate change polarizing America, the intensity of natural disasters ramping up globally, and Balog battling with untested technology in subzero conditions and coming face-to-face with his own mortality.

While it took years for Balog to see the fruits of his labors, this hauntingly beautiful film (which won a 2014 News and Documentary Emmy® Award for Outstanding Nature Programming) compresses the years into seconds, capturing mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate.

In addition to the Emmy® Award, Chasing Ice received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Original Song ("Before My Time" by J. Ralph, performed by Scarlett Johansson and Joshua Bell), the Excellence in Cinematography: U.S. Documentary Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and numerous awards at independent film festivals across the country.

Among other reviews, the New York Times said, "A solitary quest with global implications — makes Chasing Ice as watchable as it is important," while the Huffington Post called it "one of the most beautiful and important films ever made."

David Braaten, professor of geography, who will lead the talk-back session after KIPCOR’s screening of Chasing Ice, has been teaching atmospheric science in the Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science at the University of Kansas since 1989, while also researching climate change in polar regions. He earned his Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of California-Davis and also has a B.S. and M.S. in meteorology.

Braaten is an associate director of KU’s Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, or CReSIS, a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center that conducts research to understand and predict the role of polar ice sheets in sea level change. Braaten has conducted fieldwork on both Greenland (six trips) and Antarctic ice sheets (seven trips).

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2015–16 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2015–16. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.